NATO Chief: "The EU defense arm needs Turkey"


NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Saturday urged the European Union to bring Turkey into the bloc's defense development arm and security structures. "Why doesn't the EU grant such an arrangement to Turkey?" said Rasmussen, in a pointed demand for Ankara, which provides NATO with one its biggest armed forces, to join the European Defense Agency (EDA), a mainly research and development arm. His call, delivered to top policymakers attending a transatlantic security conference in Brussels, was directed squarely at listening EU parliament head Jerzy Buzek. The former Danish premier has actively courted Ankara since before it dropped opposition to his appointment last year at the last minute. Rasmussen said that Brussels should also conclude a security partnership with Ankara, and involve non-EU countries in decisions affecting its mission to Bosnia. "Turkey is the second-largest contributor to the EU operation in Bosnia ... but the EU does not provide non-EU contributors with the opportunity to contribute" to policy and decision-making, he said, adding that it is "essential" it does.